September 13, 2017
On August 24, 2017, the SEC filed an Administrative Proceeding to make findings and impose remedial sanctions against John Abio (a/k/a Tre Brandenberg), who submitted an Offer of Settlement in anticipation of the institution of these proceedings. The SEC alleges that Abio, as the President, CEO, and sole control person of Abio Financial Group, Inc. offered and sold unregistered promissory notes in two companies that ultimately scammed investors. Abio is not registered as or affiliated with a registered broker-dealer and has residences in Dallas, Texas and Panama City, Florida.
According to the Administrative Proceeding, Providence Financial Investments, Inc. (PFI) and Providence Fixed Income Fund, LLC (PFIF) raised more than $64 million from over 400 investors through the sale of unregistered promissory notes between 2011 and 2015. PFI and PFIF allegedly marketed the notes to investors as offering annual returns ranging from 12% to 13% and represented to investors that their investment proceeds would be used to fund the “factoring” of accounts receivable in Brazil. However, when questioned by the SEC, PFI and PFIF produced records indicating that they spent no more than 68% of investors’ money to finance factoring transactions in Brazil. According to the SEC Complaint, neither company has been able to account for how the remaining investor proceeds were spent.
The SEC accepted Abio’s Offer of Settlement, barring him from association with any broker, dealer, investment adviser, municipal securities dealer, municipal advisor, transfer agent, or nationally recognized statistical rating organization. The SEC also barred Abio from participating in any offering of a penny stock.
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